Parts & Labor

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Groundswell (2003), 6.5/10
Stay Afraid (2006), 6/10
Mapmaker (2007), 6.5/10
Receivers (2008), 6.5/10
Constant Future (2011), 5.5/10

New York trio Parts & Labor turned the instrumental album Groundswell (JMZ, 2003) into a diligent parade of post-rock and noise-rock digressions, mostly highlighted by the electronic noises of Dan Friel. intense atonal jamming and stormy drumming Autopilot and Groundswell Cream-like blues-rock TB Strut Mike Burke For President is the exact opposite, a festive romp halfway between surf music and Devo festive dissonant explosive square dance Parts & Labor folkish dance Happy New Year atmospheric: sinister and gloomy Intervention prog-rock expressionism Broken Man Going To Work

After Rise Rise Rise (Narnack, 2003), a split with Tyondai Braxton, containing seven new songs, and the six-song EP Escapers One (Broklyn Beats, 2006), the second album, Stay Afraid (2006), the first one featuring drummer Chris Weingarten, invested more in the melodies (and in the singing) without sacrificing the noise. If it weren't for the massive guitar distortion, A Great Divide would be a poppy ditty (with just a tad of Teutonic euphoria). Drastic Measures is mainstream punk-pop, despite a guitar intro that mimics a volcanic eruption and a rude organ riff. The attention to the melody does not detract from the visceral instrumental parts, as the extreme Death proves. It's another album overflowing with energy and noise, except that this time it is placed at the service of a (sellable) refrain. The results are sometimes awkward, and one gets the impression that songs such as A Pleasant Stay would do a lot better without the vocals (as the vibrant instrumental Repair proves), but the band has plenty of creative skills to shape each and every song in unpredictable manners, making (in particular) the beginning and the ending real audio delights.

That balance yielded a more mature sound on Mapmaker (Jagjaguwar, 2007). If Visions of Repair and King Of The Hill are shamelessly arena-poppy (but still damaged by innumerable guitar and keyboard oddities), Fractured Skies is fueled by a drum'n'bass pattern turning into motorik gallop, while a psychedelic-tinged choir responds to the singer's anthemic refrain, and Unexplosions could be a vintage piece of Merseybeat if it weren't attached to a burst of supersonic rockabilly. The band engages in plenty of unorthodox behavior: the noisy Brighter Days, the psychedelic Long Way Down, the deranged Ghosts Will Burn, etc. When that instinct hits on a viral idea, the results are spectacular: the breathless, majestic, square dance The Gold We're Digging and the irresistible merry-go-round of Fake Rain. The rhythm is relentlessly breakneck. This time the vocals (still the weakest element of the equation) do not hurt.

The mini-album Escapers Two (Ace Fu, 2008) contained 51 songs in under 30 minutes.

Relegating the noise to the background, Receivers (2008), the first album with new drummer Joe Wong and guitarist Sarah Lipstate, boasted more organic and more elegant constructs that revisited aesthetic principles of avantgarde rock in a less traumatic manner, from the mournful The Ceasing Now to the rousing Satellites.

Sarah Lipstate was also active as Noveller, sculpting ambient music for treated guitar on Paint On The Shadows (No Fun, 2009) and Red Rainbows (No Fun Productions, 2009).

Parts & Labor shifted the emphasis of their sound towards the distorted swirling keyboard riffs on Constant Future (2011). These (and the booming drums) are the real protagonists of the otherwise trivial and lifeless songs. Echo Chamber, Pure Annihilation and Constant Future save the day.

Invisible Things, the duo of US Maple's guitarist Mark Shippy and Parts & Labor's drummer Jim Sykes, debuted with the brainy post-rock abstractions of Home Is The Sun (Porter Records, 2012).

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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